*peeks head through door* I AM SORRY I AM SO SORRY *hides again*

I do not own The Mortal Instruments.

Clary stumbled and toppled against someone - Tessa, it seemed - crying out as she held on to whatever she could so as not to fall out the back. Xavier managed to shut the doors, and she loosened her hold, which as it turned out, was on Jack's arm.

Shuffling from him with a scowl, she turned to Tessa. "What's the Institute?"

"It's somewhere Shadowhunters can go to rest, or to research something, when they're in New York. There are Institutes all over the world, actually."

"My parents are in charge of this one." Xavier pitched in, leaning against a wall as Aline made a wild turn onto a busy street, causing several horns to blare from screeching cars.

"We're going there now?"

"We have to, either way. We don't know where to start looking for your little friend, and we have to leave you somewhere safe."

Clary's head snapped toward Jack, who was fumbling with the sword, covering his hands in the black sticky substance. He didn't seem to care. "I am most definitely going with you."

"Clary," Tessa began. "You-"

"Yes, i'm sure i'll only put all of you at risk and that i don't know what i'm doing and that i'm only a human so i'll get myself killed, but i couldn't care less. I've known Jace my whole life, and i'm not about to hand his life over to a bunch of strangers. No offense."

"It's not really a decision any of us can make." Xavier replied. "My parents-"

"Are not the boss of me. If i can't go with you, i'll go without you."

Jack chuckled. "Go where?"

"I know where Jace lives, and where he likes to hang out. He was probably ambushed in one of those places. That's a better start than you've got, isn't it?"

The three fell silent, then Tessa shrugged. Crawling to the seats in the front, she tapped on Aline's shoulder. "Change of plans."

The group stared up at the apartment building. Clary had never been here, actually, as they mostly hung out at Magnus's loft. It was a nine story brick building, one among many on a narrow street. An alley peeked from the side of it, which wasn't as dingy as usual New York alleys. The dumpster was neat, and there were clean recycling bins next to it.

Jack pulled out some sort of device and stepped toward the entrance with it. "No demonic presence. Though, we don't know how long the Hellnor was pretending to be Case."

"Jace." Clary corrected. "And probably not long. We go to the same college, and it was definitely him then."

"You sure?" Tessa asked doubtfully.

Clary thought back. "Oh, yes, i'm pretty sure."

"Well, it wasn't here. This device senses evil from afar." Jack put the thing away and turned to gang. "Although, since it never goes off around me-"

There was a loud crash followed by a screeching noise coming from the alley. In a flash Xavier and Jack were there, followed by Clary and Tessa.

The dumpster had been tossed over, and the neatly bagged trash inside burst open, scattering litter everywhere. But no one paid attention to that.

Standing over the mess was a tall, stretched out man. unnaturally, horrifically stretched out. Fingers too long, head to slim, body just wide enough to fit his ribs. Pale and bald, the thin man towered tall, and was holding a wriggling cat between his fingers.

"Quiet down, Molks!" the man said with a strange accent, trying to tame the squirming creature. It broke free and ran off into the night. The man cursed and placed his hands on his hips. Then he finally noticed the group of teenagers.

"Oh, honestly. What are Nephilim doing around here?"

"Warlock." said Xavier, lowering his weapon. "You're just a warlock."

"No, i'm a turtle." the man rolled his eyes, folding up the sleeves of his suit jacket in a bored manner. "Yes, i'm a warlock! What else?"

"What was the commotion?"

"My cat freaked out when he sensed you people nearby. Toppled over this trash. I don't know why, though, as he's been around Nepholim be-"

The warlock's gaze rested on Clary, and his jaw dropped. "Ah! Of course. That's why."

"What?" Clary pushed through the others to the front. "What about me?"

"You've a dark mark on you."

"A what?"

"A dark, dark blood mark. Someone wants the head of every member of your family on a stick." the warlock leant against a brick wall, examining his long manicured nails.

Tessa frowned. "But the other murders weren't to do with Clary. None of the victims were related to you, right?"


"Those murders have probably nothing to do with this. But your family, it seems," Jack smiled lazily. "Has buried themselves in some deep shit."

In the distance there was water dripping steadily, echoing in the hallow space and driving Jace insane. Even more insane than he already was. His hands were sore from the ropes binding his wrists, and his back was aching from being cramped into the same position for so long. He could see nothing - it was pitch black. If he was able to somehow reach for his phone and dial 911, it wouldn't matter, as he had no idea where he was and his cell-phone was missing.

Footsteps echoed in the space, and his heart rate picked up. He'd been here for hours and he'd not know who'd taken him. But the footsteps were strange - not footsteps, he decided. It was a pulsing sound...like a loud heartbeat.

A sickly voice whispered from the darkness.

"Not long before the Fairchild shows up to save her little plaything."

Are the group filed back into the van, Clary settled into the corner in silence, deep in thought.

She wasn't a Shadowhunter, this she was sure of. Neither was anyone in her family, it seemed. Yet somehow, someone in her line had gotten mixed up with these...Stingler things. Humans couldn't see demons, not when they weren't disguised. Did her whole family have this 'sight'? Why had her mother never mentioned it?

Someone sat next to her.

"Don't worry. As Shadowhunters it is out duty to protect defenseless mundanes with blood curses."

It was Jack. Her teeth ground together, and she steadily ignored him.

"Look," the humor was gone from his tone. "I know you're worried for your friend. And you're probably really confused about all of this. So, we'll help you no matter what."

No matter what? What was that supposed to mean? But it was the first thing remotely kind he'd said to her since meeting, so she muttered a 'thanks' and Jack went to sit with Aline in front.

Clary had told Aline to go to Magnus's place, as that was where Alec and, and possibly Izzy, would be. She figured if Jace had talked to anyone, it would have been to one of them. But he hope was slowly dimming and her fear for his wellbeing was quickly multiplying.

The vehicle stopped, and Clary was out the back doors first, gathering her bearings.

They had stopped right in front of the entrance to his loft. Eager, she ran up to the door and rang the buzzer.

No answer.

She rang it again, with the same result. A panic started to set, and she tried for the door. It opened.

In another world, she heard the others following her, but her mind was set on climbing the stairs to the apartment. When she got to the top, the door was blasted off the hinges.

Inside, the furniture was toppled over. The TV was smashed on the floor, the plant in the corner was scattered in the floor, the yellow por cracked. The cushions of the couch and armchairs had been torn open, the insides spilling out and covering everything. It was all a wreck.

The device in Jack's hand went off.

They stood there for a moment before both Shadowhunters pulled out their blades and whispered something to them. Xavier stepped through the doorway, looked all around the room, and shuffled further into the apartment, searching all the rooms. Jack stood in a defensive stance by Tessa and Clary.

Xavier came back, shaking his head. "No demons."

"They were here recently." said Jack, nudging a fallen lamp.

"Did they take Magnus?" Clary said, her voice rising an octave. And who else was here when they stopped by? Alec? Izzy? Magnus's parents? How would they know?

"We can't know for sure. But probably."

She scowled at Jack and pulled out her phone anxiously. Jace's number she didn't have, as she always refused to program it into her phone. But everyone else she did.

Dialing Magnus, she was sure there wouldn't be an answer. That's why when there was, she was surprised.

"'Sup, Clary?"

"Magnus?" she replied. Tessa turned with a relieved expression from leaning over a broken photo-frame, while the two boys watched her intently. "Magnus, where are you?"

"At a club." she finally heard the pulsing beat, realizing that he was yelling. "You wanna come over?"

"N-No. You guys just stay out, okay? You're with Alec and Izzy, right?"

"Yes, i am in fact with Alec and Izzy. The latter of which is currently grinding up against a drunk Simon."

Clary sagged in realief. At least the rest of them were okay.

Magnus hung up, and she stuffed the phone into her pocket, running a hand through her hair. "He's fine. They're fine."

"Good riddens. Saving everyone you've ever had contact with would have been disastrous." Jack swept over the room one last time before gesturing to the door. "There's nothing left to do here. Let's go."

As they shuffled down the stairs, Clary wondered what Magnus's reaction to the trashed loft would be.

"He'll think it's a robbery." Xavier replied. She realized she'd said her thoughts aloud.

"But nothing was taken."

"I think he'll be beyond those thoughts. Trashed apartment in New York City equals robbery to you mundanes."

She rolled her eyes at Jack. Magnus was a smart guy. He'd catch on this wasn't normal. Though she wasn't so sure he'd immedietly think Of course. Demons. Shadowhunters. Someone putting a bounty on Clary's head.

Clary corrected herself. There wasn't any bounty on her head.

That they knew of.